*God’s Words. Our Voice: Singing the Songs of Faith – February 25, 2018

Feb 25, 2018

“I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music…”    Martin Luther, in a letter (1530) to Catholic composer, Ludwig Senfl

Hymns are often the first way we learn to give voice to our faith as children and even those who are not great singers have favorite hymns that they know by heart.  You are invited to reflect on this stanza in the week ahead.  Use it for prayer, meditation, or in daily devotion.  Our prayer and hope is that these hymn stanzas will lift and deepen your faith and encourage your living of that faith in daily works of love and acts of mercy.


As the Deer Runs to the River   ELW 331, stanza 1


As the deer runs to the river,

parched and weary from the chase,

we have come from hurt and hurry,

thirsting for your healing grace.

Jesus, source of living water,

may we drink of you and live!

The first line of this hymn sets the tone and provides the imagery that runs through the text.  The word “run” suggests urgency, and the word “water” connects us to our need for Christ, the source of living water.

The first stanza is from the opening verses of Psalm 42.  Many Christians have sung that psalm in times of discouragement and struggle, especially when oppressed.  There are times in our lives when we come to worship “from hurt and hurry.”  In pondering this text, consider what it must be like for Christians who try to gather for worship in places of persecution and hardship.

The tune chosen for this hymn in the new Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal comes from the early Lutheran tradition.  The stanzas are in two long, identical phrases, moving solidly by quarter notes throughout, with a third related line for the refrain, making the tune very accessible.  (PICARDY is an alternate tune.)

The text is written by Herman Stuempfle (1923-2007), considered by many to be one of the best hymn writers of our day.  He served as professor of preaching, dean, and finally president of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.